Archive: Wed Mar 2017

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    A (very) brief comment on the US House Tax Plan

    In general the House tax plan is consistent with sound economic reasoning on tax policy—flattening and lowering personal rates and eliminating the AMT are important and long overdue. The 50% exclusion on investment income—capital gains, interest, and dividends—will help to ameliorate, although not eliminate, the income tax’s bias…
    Roy Cordato, March 1, 2017
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    Say Yes to Education issues

    For starters—in what is commonly known as a “Friday afternoon news dump”—-Say Yes to Education Guilford announced the resignation of its executive director. Mary Vigue–former assistant Greensboro city manger, had been on the job just over a year. Her replacement is Nadia Del Valle, national program director for…
    Sam Hieb, March 1, 2017
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    Cooper’s budget throws ethnic/racial minority students under the bus

    Governor Roy Cooper’s budget would discontinue the expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, funding scholarships only for those low-income children already receiving them. According to the N.C. State Education Assistance Authority, 59 percent of the nearly 5,500 low-income students receiving an Opportunity Scholarship belong to an ethnic or racial…
    Terry Stoops, March 1, 2017
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    Leef calls for major change in key U.S. Education Department office

    George Leef’s latest Martin Center column focuses on a piece of the Washington, D.C., bureaucracy known as the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. Nowhere is the adage “personnel is policy” truer than in the federal education bureaucracy. With nothing more than a few Dear…
    Mitch Kokai, March 1, 2017
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    Re: Another critique of the ‘efficiency gap’

    Two months ago, "The Locker Room" highlighted a Commentary magazine article that questioned so-called "efficiency gap" analysis as a tool for helping judges determine whether lawmakers have engaged in "too much" partisan gerrymandering when they draw election district maps. The latest issue of Commentary features my letter responding to the article from Syracuse law professor Tara Helfman. The original version of the letter is printed below. Follow this link for the slightly edited Commentary version of the letter, along with Helfman's courteous and informative reply. Thank you to Tara Helfman for highlighting recent developments in the complicated struggle over the future of electoral gerrymandering (“Is the Gerrymander on Its Way Out?,” January 2017). Some additional facts might help readers cultivate an even better understanding of the issue. First, Helfman notes U.S. Supreme Court justices’ “palpable” frustration during oral argument over recent redistricting cases from Virginia and North Carolina. To some extent, those justices have only themselves to blame. That’s because they have not set a clear standard differentiating an acceptable amount of partisanship in drawing election maps from unconstitutionally excessive partisanship. Helfman’s article notes that the Supreme Court “declined to invalidate” a “meandering Pennsylvania redistricting map” in 2004. Left out of her analysis was the fact that five of the nine justices might have struck that map down had they agreed on a means. While the court’s so-called conservative bloc agreed with the late Justice Antonin Scalia that partisan gerrymandering was a political issue that courts ought not address, the opposing liberal bloc disagreed. It proposed potential tests for determining whether a partisan gerrymander was unconstitutional.
    Mitch Kokai, March 1, 2017
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    Leaving government jobs vacant

    Kyle Feldscher explains in the Washington Examiner why many federal government jobs are likely to remain vacant. President Trump doesn’t plan to fill many of the hundreds of appointed political jobs in his administration because he thinks they’re unnecessary. In an interview…
    Mitch Kokai, March 1, 2017
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    No net regulatory cost

    Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon details a new report about the potential positive impact of the Trump administration’s approach to regulation. President Donald Trump’s executive order to eliminate two regulations for every new rule could result in zero net regulatory costs this…
    Mitch Kokai, March 1, 2017
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    Giving the EPA a haircut

    Michael Bastasch of the Daily Caller details the Trump administration’s plans for paring back the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. President Donald Trump will ask Congress to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget 24 percent, or nearly $2 billion, according to sources familiar with…
    Mitch Kokai, March 1, 2017